In this week’s 2019 NBA Mock Draft, we break down the big Duke-North Carolina game and discuss how teams with multiple picks can capitalize.
As always, projected standings are based upon FiveThirtyEight’s CARM-Elo rankings. This version of the mock uses projections as of Feb. 24, with the Suns and Knicks starting to separate themselves for the two top spots in the draft order.
More than in most years, the back of the first round is in flux as standout prospects trade big games in the thick of conference play.
Ready, set, go:
The Bucks’ secondary playmaking has been a huge part of what’s boosted Giannis Antetokounmpo to the MVP level he reached this season, but all three of Eric Bledsoe, Malcolm Brogdon and George Hill are likely to be free agents at the end of the season. Dosunmu could help replace one of them off the bench going forward as Milwaukee gives pay raises to its stars.
This pick comes by way of Toronto as a result of the Kawhi Leonard trade. Drafting Gafford would give San Antonio an athletic, two-way big to pair with its budding young backcourt.
The Warriors need depth and immediate impact from the draft after years of drafting big men and project wings. Paschall, a senior, would fit what the Warriors do on both ends and could slide in right away in 2020.
G, Arizona State
To nab Dort for the small price of taking Kenneth Faried’s contract off Denver’s hands would be another prize for the Nets amidst a sterling rebuild. Dort is a developing primary playmaker with the talent to become an elite multipositional NBA defender.
G, North Carolina
The lesser version of what Philly sought out by drafting Markelle Fultz, White could play opposite Ben Simmons or lead second units and brings the size the 76ers want at every position defensively.
Mike Schmitz of ESPN wrote this week, “ask international scouts which European prospect they’d take first and you’ll get a different answer: Goga Bitadze, who brings hands, touch and feel at 6-foot-11.” That tells you all you need to know about the skilled big man from the nation of Georgia.
Oklahoma City is reaping the benefit of finally becoming more modern with its lineups, playing a healthy dose of Jerami Grant at power forward and long athletes such as Terrance Ferguson, Nerlens Noel and Dennis Schroder in roles that suit them well. Adding the strong, aggressive Schofield to the mix would be a nice fit.
Clarke is an interesting candidate in the frontcourt if the Pacers were to consider trading one of Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner this summer (our money would be on Sabonis). The Arizona native’s defensive versatility and playmaking ability make him a better fit to play next to another big man.
Cleveland grabbed this pick from Houston at the trade deadline for taking on Brandon Knight and Marquese Chriss. Using it to take Washington, a mobile big man with elite touch around the basket and solid rim protection instincts would push the trade even further in the Cavaliers’ favor.
F, Iowa State
Both Moe Harkless and Evan Turner will see their contracts expire in the summer of 2020, at which point Portland will have the freedom for the first time in a while to shake the roster up in free agency. Horton-Tucker is very young but would likely be ready by that time to contribute as a tertiary playmaker and a great team defender.
Williams is going to be the guy who carves out a long career in the NBA and confuses fans who wonder why he didn’t go higher in the draft. It’s only right that Utah, a franchise full of players who were doubted for one reason or another, be the team to land him.
Porter, a young second-year college player who has gotten better in a hurry over the past few years, would be a fantastic student of the game under San Antonio’s renowned coaching staff. He is recovering from a knee injury but is expected to make a full recovery.
This pick arrives by way of the Clippers, giving Boston another opportunity to stockpile a desirable asset like Jones as they lock their eyes onto Anthony Davis this summer.
G, Virginia Tech
Alexander-Walker’s shooting and size would help just about any team in the league but particularly Detroit, whose guard play is some of the worst in the NBA.
Okpala injured his upper body at shootaround before last week’s road loss to Arizona State and missed the past two games. He remains one of the better 3-and-D prospects in the 2019 class, a long athlete who stands 6-9 and shoots 38 percent from 3 even after a cold stretch lately.
Making the playoffs and drafting someone with the upside of Hachimura — should he learn to read the game better on offense — is the perfect scenario for Orlando.